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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus Christ’

Each one of these people of faith died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing. How did they do it? They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world. People who live this way make it plain that they are looking for their true home. If they were homesick for the old country, they could have gone back any time they wanted. But they were after a far better country than that—heaven country. You can see why God is so proud of them, and has a City waiting for them. (Hebrews 11:13-16)

“Do something radical this week–live like you believe.”  There were some nods, nudges, and Amens  before God’s people bowed their heads for a final prayer.  Help me live like I believe.  

Then I remember yesterday’s stroll in the orange and yellow dappled woods outside of Divide.  The children were on a journey of discovery…Mom, look at this!  But my mind had been captured by the struggles of a dear one and I wondered–even shook my fist– at a world bursting with beauty and struggle, joy and grief, blessing and affliction.

Separating from my family, I lay beneath the aspen trees.  The sounds of father, boy, and girl slowly give way to the rustle of raindrop-shaped leaves. And I grieved over the young man–praying, hoping, wishing for more for him.  More living. More loving. More of the Lord.   But, the prayers have been slow to be answered and I think of the contrast between the two trees I see raising their arms to heaven.

One stands tall–its patterned bark and amber colored leaves offering tribute to the Artist.  An arm width’s distance away, another aspen stands –blackened patches and burn scars testifying to a lightening strike.  There are no leaves.  No signs of vitality.  But its roots dig deep into the   life- giving earth and it awaits the quickening of a new day.  A day of restoration…renewal…redemption.

Just by being, we bear the scars of the world.  But, dear friend, God proves Himself greater…more powerful…and true to His promises. The risen-Christ is living proof.

 Lord,help us live like we believe!

Scripture for Reflection

I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: “Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.” The Enthroned continued, “Look! I’m making everything new. Write it all down—each word dependable and accurate.”   (Rev. 21:3-5)

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The Shadow of Death surrounds her like a dark, oppressive fog obscuring the path. Swirling madly about the Woman’s feet, the Shadow twists itself round and round–eliminating vision. The Woman gropes her way in the dark. Is there a cliff? Shelter? Will Death overcome her?

Not understanding pain…failing to grasp the marriage between El Roi’s sovereignty and the blight of suffering…and hoping she has enough faith, Woman calls out in her desperate need for the Light to reveal himself.

And because of his matchless grace and mercy, the Light holds her gently. Wrapped in the warmth of His promise, the Woman notices the Shadow retracting. Where there is Light, darkness cannot exist.

Scarmelcripture for Reflection–“Through the heartfelt mercies of our God, God’s Sunrise will break in upon us..”. Luke 1:78-80

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Nothing changes.  The words slip past his lips as easily as the joy leaves my heart. Is it me?   The circumstances?  What could be different?  I’m not certain.  Perhaps we are the ones meant to change….to grow….in faith, steadfastness, genuine love for those around us.

Nothing changes. The words ring true. The human experience is one of dual tracks–joy and struggle, laughter and tears, life and death.  These are consistent.

Nothing changes?  But situations change.  They ebb and flow like the rushing ocean. One moment a piece of sand rotates beneath the rush of the water and is replaced by another.  It begins to experience something different…new…frightening…exciting.

Nothing changes?  People change.  Time and experience alter opinions, expectations, reactions.  People develop character or regress into selfishness.  People embrace happiness and weep through their sorrows.  Life’s events mold and shape who we are just as the sweeping winds erode and soften sandstone jutting up against the prairie’s horizon.

Nothing changes?  There is one thing–One God-Man who never changes.  His power is limitless, His love boundless, His promises eternal.  Circumstances?  They may change for better–or worse.  Life experiences?  Certain to move from heartfelt celebration to heartache–and back again.  But Jesus Christ?  Friend, He never changes.

Scripture for Reflection

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.  (Hebrews 13:8)

 

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babies,children,Christ,Christianity,Christians,Christmas,halos,holy,iCLIPART,illustrations,Jesus,Madonnas,Mary,mothers,religions,religious,saviors,vintages,Virgin MaryIt’s the anticipation I love.  The waiting…planning….preparing.

The Little Ones are wrapping handmade gifts with wrinkled tissue paper and a stapler.  Mom, I need some help.  The Big Guys trample up the stairs.  Where are the cookies?  You’ve eaten them already, I reply.  But the fudge is on the countertop.  My favorite Christmas CD plays in the background and I wish more days were spent like this–slowing down long enough to savor life’s small pleasures.

My thoughts jump to the anticipation of the first Christmas.  For months, the young mother had ignored the barbs and stares of others.  She’s pregnant.  Have nothing to do with that woman.  Her swelling stomach reminded her that God’s promise would soon be fulfilled.  He will save his people.  And finally, bent over in pain, she knelt in the dim light of a stable.

There were no gilded packages…just rags wrapped ’round the babe.  There were no sparkling lights…but she held the Light of the world in her arms.  And as she gazed at Him, the woman knew He was the Gift the world had been waiting to receive.

Thousands of years later, we still celebrate that day–and we continue to anticipate.  The Promise he introduced long ago in the stable will one day be made complete.  He will save.  He will restore.  He will bring peace…hope….renewal–Christmas fulfilled.

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A child reacts to police and fireman staged nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School where a gunman opened fire on school children and staff in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012. REUTERS-Adrees Latif

A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice…Isaiah 42:3

Like the rest of you, I’m in mourning today for the horrific and senseless loss of life in Connecticut. I sit helplessly in front of my computer screen–watching in stunned silence–wanting to do something, to help someone, to erase those fatal moments from history.

I cry and wonder aloud, How could something like this happen to innocent children? What if these were my little ones? Why would God allow such evil?

I don’t have the answers to the hard questions. I wish I did–or that someone did.
All we can do now is to bend our knees in prayer for those families who have been robbed of the gift of their precious children.

One day there will be justice for this unjust loss of life–for the children.

Lord,
We can’t begin to describe the sadness, anger, and bewilderment we are feeling. We can’t begin to understand how such an evil act can occur within the walls of a school building where crayons and books are the norm. But you, Father God, are the Comforter and Healer. You are the Rock and Sustainer. You bring about justice and offer us life everlasting in Jesus Christ.

We ask you to surround those families who have suffered and lost all hope today. Act mightily in their lives and turn our nation toward you because we are desperate for our Savior and in need of his redemption.

Amen

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A social outcast, Mary Magdalene was the bad girl of Galilee.  Women warned their sons about that woman and respectable men turned away in embarrassment at her knowing smile.  Mary was hopeless.  Rejected.  Irredeemable.

A beloved son rejected his father and his God for the false pleasures of the world.  Having ruined the family name, the young man returned home an impoverished and downtrodden fool…the stench of wild living still clinging to him.

Known for his religious zeal, Saul served as coat valet during a murderous rampage of  Christian converts.  Children cowered in his presence.  Families mourned.  A self-proclaimed executioner, Saul was guilty.

What do these people have in common with each other?  With a beloved friend or relative?  What do they have in common with us?

His name is Jesus Christ–the Savior sent to restore the rejected and rescue the irredeemable; the Shepherd commissioned to guide wayward children home to the Father; and the Lamb offering His life for those who are guilty.

Be encouraged!  Christ came to save the prostitutes, prodigals, and perpetrators.  He came to save the sinners.  He came to save you and me.  No sin is too great nor soul too tarnished to be outside the grasp of a loving God.

Verse for Reflection

We, of course, have plenty of wisdom to pass on to you once you get your feet on firm spiritual ground, but it’s not popular wisdom, the fashionable wisdom of high-priced experts that will be out-of-date in a year or so. God’s wisdom is something mysterious that goes deep into the interior of his purposes. You don’t find it lying around on the surface. It’s not the latest message, but more like the oldest—what God determined as the way to bring out his best in us, long before we ever arrived on the scene. The experts of our day haven’t a clue about what this eternal plan is. If they had, they wouldn’t have killed the Master of the God-designed life on a cross.    (1 Corinthians 2:8-10)

Action Step

Who did God put on your heart as you read this devotion?  Are you struggling with the idea that God offers love and forgiveness to you?  Or have you been praying for a friend who hasn’t yet met the One who sets us free from our sins?  Tell the Lord about it and then give Him that concern, thought, or prayer for today.

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